Decline of Local Journalism

I’m not sure there is a solution to it, but it is a problem for local communities and their ability to keep tabs on local government.

Over the past 15 years, more than 1,400 towns and cities have lost a newspaper. Among them are the twin towns of Waynesville and St. Robert in central Missouri’s Ozark hills.

The newspaper that served them closed last September, leaving residents without a source of regular news about their community.

The reasons for the closures vary. But the result is that many Americans no longer have someone watching the city council for them, chronicling the soccer exploits of their children or reporting on the kindly neighbor who died.

11 Responses to Decline of Local Journalism

  1. Kevin Scheunemann says:

    Local blogs like this and Washington County Insider may have to fill the gap.

    I ran a college newspaper at UW-Milwaukee in early 1990s.

    Despite our popularity and controversy being a conservative newspaper in a liberal snake pit, it was tough to break it even, and this was before the internet became a regular news source.

    Newspapers have to convert to digital format. Some do it well. Some not so well.

    The days of newsprint, even though I still enjoy reading it, non-digital, are probably numbered.

  2. jjf says:

    Or maybe the market spoke.  Maybe you overestimated the popularity of your viewpoint.  Maybe you weren’t good at expressing yourself, or editing the works of others.  Maybe you couldn’t attract talent.  Maybe you weren’t a good businessman.   You’d think a strong conservative viewpoint would be like fresh water in the desert in the early 1990s and it would’ve been easy to succeed.  Papers fail for all sorts of reasons.  It was probably someone else’s fault.

  3. Kevin Scheunemann says:

    Jjf,

    The paper didn’t fail under my watch.

    I brought it back from insolvency and left it in good hands, good terms.

    Just relating the struggle it is to run a print newspaper.

    We were the most popular newspaper on campus at time.

    Liberals read us to be outraged. Conservatives read it as inspiration they needed with liberal dreck all around them. The liberal newspaper was boring and uninspired, like most liberal media.

  4. Mar says:

    JjF, the same can be said of all newspapers despite their political leaning. And I’ve noticed that many newspapers have liberal leanings but are in conservative cities. Of course they are failing.
    Plus the advent of social media and online apps, you can find the news almost as it happens. My city’s newspaper only report crimes that are reported to them by local first responders. Reporters don’t go out in the field unless it is between 8-5 and not on weekends.

  5. jjf says:

    Yes, Mar, newspapers have been on a rough ride for a few decades.  Fewer and fewer journalists, slimmer business models, and yet people still think they want accurate news.

    I’m reminded of the difference in quality between old land line phones and cell phones.  It was a rare day you picked up the land line phone and didn’t get a dial tone.  Ultra reliable.

    And cell phones came along and people paid a premium for a device and service that was far less reliable than the land line.  It gave other conveniences.

    Now the President makes outlandish lies on a daily basis and no one blinks an eye.

  6. Pat says:

    Kevin said, “Local blogs like this and Washington County Insider may have to fill the gap.”

    I would agree that the Washington County Insider provides journalistic value to this local as a resource for timely and accurate news. On the other hand it would be a stretch to equate blogs having anything to do with journalism. Blogs generally are nothing more than opinion mouthpieces. Accuracy is suspect at best.

  7. Pat says:

    I should clarify. Accuracy is generally slanted in one direction or another dependent on personal bias, making accuracy suspect.

  8. jjf says:

    I looked at Washington County Insider.  Tough comment policy, no comments.  Kind of like Dad29’s blog. 

  9. Kevin Scheunemann says:

    Pat,

    That is a harsh thing to say about this fine blog.

  10. Pat says:

    Kevin said, “That is a harsh thing to say about this fine blog.”

    How so, Kevin?

  11. Pat says:

    Owen has a very fine blog. He references specific articles that coincide with his political views. He then gives his opinion, and allows others to express their opinions, without censoring. But, is it journalism?

    Mark Belling doesn’t consider himself to be a journalist. He considers himself to be a radio talk show host who gives his opinion on the subject matter he presents. Opinion based blogs are pretty much the same.

    Some talk shows are better than others. The same is with blogs, and Owen has a very good blog. There are blogs that are quite bad, allowing for any deranged individual to express their deranged narrative. This is not one of them.

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